RSPB in the East

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You might be surprised to read that our work is far broader than nature reserves and Big Garden Birdwatch. Read more about what else we do.

RSPB in the East

All of our up to date fun and frolics in the East from office antics to great conservation stories and those magical connections with nature.
  • Great Yarmouth Air Show: Our position

    Author: Jeff Knott, RSPB in the East's Regional Director

    Back in January, Theresa May launched Defra’s long-awaited 25 year environment plan. A plan slathered in promises to secure a generational turn around in the fortunes of our natural world. One key idea was to create a ‘world-leading environmental watchdog’ to ensure the interests of our environment had a strong voice in decision making.

    This was a perfect opportunity to not only uphold our environmental laws, but also to deepen and improve their enforcement as we leave the EU. Any laws are only as effective as the institutions that enforce them, so a strong, independent body is crucial.

    An effective ‘world-leading environmental watchdog’ would be one established through new legislation, which sets out ambitious new targets for nature’s recovery – so that governments and devolved bodies can be held to account.

    Last week we anticipated its arrival, waiting to be ‘wowed.’ Would this new watchdog deliver for wildlife? Put simply: no.

    The proposals do not pave the way for a world-leading environmental watchdog that the Prime Minister promised, in fact the proposals amount to little more than a toothless, green lapdog. Under current proposals, vital principles of environmental law will only be enshrined in UK policy, not law, meaning our environmental protections will be severely weakened.

    This body would only have the ability to issue weak ‘advisory notices.’ These written notices would only request people to comply with the law, with no enforcement, or apparent consequences for those who refuse to comply. They’d have no real teeth and chances are they would just be ignored. Essentially, they’re little more than a written ticking off. It’s the environmental equivalent of writing a burglar a polite letter asking them to consider not robbing any more houses.

    This lack of a strong voice for nature is already being felt. Natural England, our current environmental regulator has undergone a shift in their approach. Their emphasis seems to have shifted away from ensuring rules are complied with, and towards enabling and facilitation; asking where nature might be allowed to fit around other activities, rather than putting nature first. Natural England’s strength is being put to the test right here in our region, right now.

    Just off the shore of Great Yarmouth, lies Scroby Sands. This sand bank acts as a sanctuary for wildlife. It is especially important for common terns and little terns, which struggle to find undisturbed areas to nest and breed on our coasts. Coated in seals, and dotted with seabirds, Scroby Sands continues to grow and develop its status as one of the best wildlife spectacles on the eastern coast.

    Scroby Sands is a legally protected site of European importance for wildlife, and little terns (a species that has suffered chronic declines over the past 25 years) are a legally protected species. However, this summer even the sanctuary of Scroby Sands won’t remain untouched from human disturbance.

    Great Yarmouth Air Show could pose major threats to wildlife, as a conservation organisation, we have raised our concerns since October 2016 to both Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the Civil Aviation Authority, and Natural England. We hope that Natural England, as a regulator, will act as a voice for nature and not assent the Air Show, during this sensitive time of the tern’s breeding season.

    A strong voice for nature is vital to ensure our special places and wildlife are properly protected, now and in the future.

    Luckily, the plans for the new regulatory body are not final, and the UK government have opened them up to consultation. As we hope Natural England will see sense and protect Scroby Sands, we hope the Government will see sense with a new regulator. Nature needs help and the RSPB will continue to speak up for its needs, but we need your help. To help our special species and places, please visit the RSPB website and join us in asking for an effective ‘world-leading environmental watchdog’, by signing up to add your voice at http://bit.ly/campaignchampion

  • 10 ways to be a wild thing

    Our Wild Things at Easter events are now in full swing and running across RSPB in the East reserves throughout the Easter holidays - find your nearest reserve running events here.  Whether you can make it to an RSPB reserve or not, RSPB volunteer Georgia Hebdige has pulled together the top ten ways to be a wild thing this spring.

    Spring is here and come rain or shine, there is no better place to be than the outdoors! From mud pies to bug hunting, here at RSPB in the East we’ve gathered some ideas on how to bring out the wild thing within you this Easter, and make the most of being outside. Whether it's sunny, cloudy, or drizzly, nature calls, so wrap up nicely and get outdoors! 

    10 ways to be a wild thing

    Wild Things at Easter at RSPB reserves

    Head down to your nearest RSPB reserve to truly release your inner wild thing. Take part in loads of fun activities, enjoy the fresh air, and make everlasting memories. Find your nearest reserve here.

    Marvelous Mud Pies

    Don’t let soggy weather stop you from getting outside. Grab your waterproofs and go wild with mud. All you need is a muddy puddle and your imagination. Mould the mud into the shape of a pie and decorate it with different materials you find lying around – rocks, acorns, leaves, feathers. 

     

    Mud Painting 

    Leave your mark on nature in a creative way. When it’s damp outside, and the mud is wet, use your hands or leaves to make wild paintings on rocks or the ground – wherever you can! Use different types mud or clay to achieve different colours. 

     

    Stunning Nature Masks 

    Are you a nature warrior? If so, you’ll need the mask to show off your wild side! Trace a mask shape onto a piece of paper, to fit your face, and cut out with scissors. Cut out holes for the eyes and two holes for string on the sides. Glue natural materials like leaves, loose petals or feathers onto the mask, or colour in. Thread elastic string into the side holes, and your mask is ready for display. Now you look like a warrior!

     

     

    Wild Wind Chime

    Capture every last gust and blow of the wind that whooshes by with your very own natural wind chime. Venture outside and collect strong materials, like sticks, stones and acorns. Hit them together to test what sound they make. Now all you need to do is attach string to each item and tie them onto a branch, making sure they dangle so that they can move easily when the wind dances through them.

    Bug hunt

    Bug hunts are a great way to discover the wild things living in your back garden! Remember to always be gentle when handling bugs or when overturning rocks and leaves so you don’t harm them. You will need a few clear jars to temporarily put your bugs in and a camera or sketchbook at the ready to record your discoveries! Using a paintbrush, gently brush the bugs into your jar to take a closer look (a magnifying glass is good for this!) and once you’ve had a good look, remember to always release them gently.

     

     

    Make a nature bracelet or crown

    There’s no better accessory than one made completely from natural materials. Make your perfectly wild bracelet or by wrapping a layer of sticky-tape around your wrist/head (sticky side up). Go for a run-around outside and whatever fallen beauties catch your eye, stick them to your bracelet or crown. These can include things like fallen flower petals, leaves, grass or more.

     

     

    Leaf rubbings 

    As the seasons change, leaves come and go, but there is a way to make them last forever. Grab a few different types of fallen leaves, place them under a piece of paper and rub them with crayons – you may have to stick them down with tape, but use very little as the tape edges will be picked up by the crayon as well.

     

     

    Make rafts and boats 

    A rainy day is not a wasted day! Remember to wrap up in your waterproofs and get your wellies on before going outside. Rainy days are perfect for building boats and rafts and watching them float down a stream, you could even race them! Experiment with different sized sticks. Does adding a sail help with speed? Weave sticks together with string to create a strong and supportive frame – you don’t want your creation to fall apart! Find a rainy puddle or stream to test your handiwork. 

     

    Build a den

    Create a temporary home out of nature's finest building materials. A good den needs good foundations. Find a tree with lots of nooks and crannies to support your den. Find some large branches to wedge into cracks of the tree, or on a low branch. Layer a few more large branches on your framework, make sure they are close together so your den has strong walls. Finally, layer leaves and small twigs onto your den to provide shelter and protection.

    Have you release your inner wild thing? Make sure to take a picture of your activities and post them of social media with #WildThings and to find your nearest event visit www.rspb.org.uk/wildthings

  • Little tern volunteers needed

    RSPB in the East is looking for little tern volunteers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

    Why volunteer to help little terns?

    Little terns are one of the UK’s rarest seabirds, having suffered serious declines over the past 25 years. These tiny chattering birds travel a 6,000 mile round trip each year to breed on the beaches of the British Isles, but their numbers have been declining as they struggle to find safe beaches to nest and feed their young, free from predators and human disturbance.

    Over a third of the UK breeding population make a home in East Anglia. However, our beaches are busy places and the little terns rely on our help to ensure chicks thrive and are able to successfully follow their parents back to Africa in August. We're looking for volunteers to help protect, monitor, and spread the word about these wonderful birds across the region - there's different kinds of opportunities in different counties so take a look to see which opportunity and location suits you best:

    Volunteer in Norfolk

    Norfolk beaches are fantastic places to see little terns, the county is home to some of the largest colonies in the UK. We are currently looking for volunteers to help manage the little tern colony at Winterton-on-sea, but we're also interested to hear from anyone willing to check the beaches at Caister and North Denes, monitoring for little terns looking to raise families there.

    As a Norfolk volunteer you will help to monitor the birds and help beach visitors understand how to make room for them during the breeding season. It's a great opportunity to learn more about bird ecology and witness the drama of an active tern colony, following these endearing birds as they raise their young from tiny bundles of fluff to intrepid fledglings before they fly back to West Africa for the winter.

    Volunteering at a Norfolk little tern colony provides an opportunity to meet new people and be part of a team working on some beautiful beaches. There is also the opportunity to spend the night watching over the birds at Winterton-on-sea.

    No specific skills are required, as all training will be provided. Some walking is necessary at some colonies, as is working outdoors in all weather conditions.  

    If you’d like to help protect this wonderful seabird in Norfolk, please get in touch: email norfolklittleterns@rspb.org.uk or call Sarah Gelpke on 07703470713.

    Volunteer in Suffolk 

    There are some great beaches that little terns call home in Suffolk. We are looking for volunteers to be stationed at Kessingland, monitoring the little tern colonies and helping beach visitors find out more about the special species.

    As a Suffolk volunteer you will help to monitor the birds and help beach visitors understand how to make room for them during the breeding season. It's a great opportunity to learn more about bird ecology and witness the drama of an active tern colony, following these endearing birds as they raise their young from tiny bundles of fluff to intrepid fledglings before they fly back to West Africa for the winter.

    Volunteering at a Suffolk little tern colony provides an opportunity to meet new people and be part of a team working on some beautiful beaches. Suffolk volunteers will work day shifts.

    No specific skills are required, as all training will be provided. Some walking is necessary at some colonies, as is working outdoors in all weather conditions.  

    If you’d like to help protect this wonderful seabird in Suffolk, please get in touch: email norfolklittleterns@rspb.org.uk (yes that's right! It's the Norfolk email).

    Volunteer in Essex

    Working with Essex Wildlife Trust, we are looking for a group of dedicated volunteers to help survey for little terns on the Essex coast this summer. Historically the Essex coast supported a significant number of nesting little terns. As recently as 20-30 years ago, several hundred pairs could be found within the county, spread across multiple sites. However over the past 20 years numbers have dropped dramatically as the birds face annual challenges in finding safe beaches to nest and feed their young.

    However, the Essex coastline has lots of potential to provide little terns with the perfect conditions to raise their families. This year we are looking for volunteers to monitor the Essex coast for nesting little terns, as well as surveying existing and historic nesting sites, looking at their potential for hosting little tern colonies, which we can then work to enhance to attract little terns in the future.

    We are looking to fill three different volunteer roles:

    Little tern land surveyors: to help monitor and protect little terns and other beach-nesting birds on the ground during the breeding season from April to August.

    Little tern boat surveyors: we are looking for little tern boat surveyors, with access to boats of any type including kayaks and canoes, to take to the water in search of out-of-sight little terns.

    Little tern advocates: we are looking for sociable and inspiring nature enthusiasts, happy to talk all things little terns around the Blackwater Estuary, Hamford Water and Colne Estuary during the April to August breeding season.

    Volunteering as a little tern surveyor or advocate provides an opportunity to meet new people and be part of a small team working on some of the most beautiful beaches in the Essex.

    No specific skills are required, as all training will be provided. Some walking is necessary at some colonies, as is working outdoors in all weather conditions.

    If you’d like to help protect this wonderful seabird, please get in touch with: sarah.gelpke@rspb.org.uk on 07703 470713 or kieren.alexander@rspb.org.uk  on 01621 869015 or 07989982019.

    Thanks to funding from the EU LIFE+ Nature Programme, the Little Tern Recovery Project is helping to ensure that our little terns have a successful trip to the coast of East Anglia, and return to West Africa with their young in September.